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Kidpoint- Essays from our Young Marines

Veterans Day: A Celebration of Different Standards
~By YM SSgt KC Rosencrans (October, 2005)

Veteran’s Day is not just another day off from school. It doesn’t represent war, and it doesn’t represent peace. It represents sacrifice and the high price of freedom that America enjoys today. Everyone celebrates it in his or her own way, whether it’s attending a service or sparing a moment of silence. The Columbia River Young Marines take it upon themselves every year to make sure that the Veterans of the United States in our community know they are appreciated. The Veterans Day parade is an opportunity for the Columbia River Young Marines to show their honor and respect to those who served our nation in the Armed Forces throughout history. It is also a reminder to the general public that if it weren’t for the Veterans of this country nobody would have the freedoms they do today.

The Young Marines arrive on the cold November morning with one mission in mind and that is to let the Veterans know that they are appreciated and that this country will stay in good hands. When a Veteran sees a young man or woman marching down Main Street dressed in a camouflage uniform, holding their head up high, with their chest stuck out, they feel pride in the country for which they served. They know that those kids are taking this country in the right direction.

The Young Marines don’t think of the Veterans Day parade as just another parade, but more of a service. It is a public service for the thousands upon thousands of people that have died in wars past. They march with pride, knowing the commitment they have taken for wearing the uniform they do. They march with heads held high, to see be seen by the many faces along the streets staring into the future. They also march with heavy hearts, knowing that many of the country’s greatest heroes have been lost due to conflict.

At the end of the road, when the parade is over, the many handshakes, thanks and teary eyes of Veteran’s makes marching in the thirty-degree weather worthwhile.

Although the Parade is a public display of appreciation, the Young Marines take it one step further by offering the CRYM Annual Veteran’s Day Spaghetti Dinner, for all Veterans and their families. The event is held at the Knight’s of Columbus Building in West Richland and is offered to any Veteran of the Armed Forces. The night is kicked off by Young Marines serving spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread to all Veterans. It is then accompanied by a candle light vigil and patriotic song. For the remainder of the night, there are small side conversations between Veterans, and Young Marines. But the best ones are when there’s a small school circle of Young Marines surrounding a Veteran as he shares his stories of brotherhood and they many journeys he or she had to take. To see the eyes of a Veteran sparkle as he tells his story, then to see the same sparkle in the eyes of a Young Marine while they’re listening could warm even the coldest of hearts. As the fun filled night comes to an end the Young Marines realize that not every Veteran will be returning the following year. But no matter if one or one hundred Veterans attend, watching the elders leave with smiles, full stomachs, and pride is worth spending the time and doing the dishes.

CRYM at First Night Activities

First Night

What a way to end a wonderful 2004 year and bring in the 2005 New Year with my young Marines and my good friends the staff. We had GySgt Allen, Pvt Cantu, Pvt Cerda-Arteaga, Marco, Pfc Dillsworth, LCpl Gatzke, Pfc Gillespie, Pvt Johnson, Pfc Leistritz, SSgt Leistritz, Cpl Lusignan, LCpl K. Quinn, Cpl Sims, LCpl M. Stout, LCpl Teall, Pvt Teeters and Pvt Young. The staff that helped out was Mrs. Villanueva and Mr. Villanueva, Mr. Lusignan, Mr. Pelleberg, Mr. Allen and Mr. Chapin, Mr. Sims. I am so proud of each of them for sticking out the very cool weather and long night, OORAAH! This was my first year of helping out at the First Night and I am ready for many more to come. I had so much fun with the 16 Young Marines and Staff that volunteered their time to man barricades and run back and forth to each one. I’m not sure about Ya’lls feet, but my feet were very cold and sore! I have to give a very big KUDO for Mrs. V and SSgt Leistritz. They both did an awesome job in planning this event for our Young Marines; this took a lot of time an patience on their part. Bless, Mrs. V’s heart she was going 90 miles an hour, from one post to another. Making sure each Young Marine had a break and was accounted for. I think we need to get her a golf cart for next year event. I’m sure her feet have to be tired! There were posts 4 to 6 blocks apart and she was a moving! There were two Young Marines at each barricade for the whole 7 hours. Let me tell you standing out in the cold weather in one place was not an easy thing to do. These kids had to deal with some interesting folks, some with no manners at all. But our Young Marines handled themselves very well.

Mr. Sims and Mr. V helped me out with keeping our Young Marines warm and their bellys full, with some nice hot chocolate and tasty hot dogs. Thanks guys for all your help!

Mr. Lusignan sure has his hands full; he kept an eye on all of his Young Marines and worked his own job with the Dare Bus at the same time. He is a very hard worker. I stood at a post on the main street at the V.I.P office (I loved it because there was some heat coming from the restaurant next door, but not a lot!) and I noticed Mr. Lusignan talking to a lot of young teenage kids that were running loose around on the streets. There were not many adults around these kids at all. These kids definitely were not squared away like our Young Marines. But these kids seem to know Mr. Lusignan from somewhere and you know he treated them like his own and gave them guidance and his time. Seeing this first hand really puts a warm spot on my heart to know that an Officer and a CO can make time too stop what he is doing an make a difference in a young teenagers life. So Kudos goes out to our CO of our unit for having such a big heart.

The Esprit office was kind enough to allow our unit to use their facilities as needed (for our YM pit stops) and The Kennewick Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Department sure helped us out through out the cold night, by keeping watch on foot and by horse back. These folks sure put a lot of time into organizing this large event for our community.

A moment that I won’t forget is when we all were together as one big Young Marine family in the intersection counting down the very last minutes of the 2004 year and watching the big ball be lowered down. Midnight struck and our YMs were cheering and giving hugs, high fives to each other. I hugged my son and told him I was a very proud Young Marine momma, gave him a little kiss on his cheek and wished him a Happy New Year. So again I want to thank you all for your hard work and what great teamwork you showed as the Proud Columbia River Young Marines!

Happy New Year,
Mrs. Sims, Adjutant

Columbia River Young Marines Veteran's Day
November, 2004

Columbia River Young Marines training weeks prior to the Veteran's Day Parade in West Richland Washington paid off, they won first place. The Young Marines showed up at 07:00 hrs, the temperature was in the 30s. Their close order drill and cadences sounded off in the cool autumn morning. The red, white and blue waved proudly and patriotism was seen up and down the streets. It reminded me of parades I've seen growing up. I was proud to be a Young Marine parent and even prouder to be an American. That evening the Columbia River Young Marines and their parents served a spaghetti dinner to more than 150 Veterans of the United States military. The dinner started with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the singing of America the Beautiful by candle light. The Pastor blessed the food and everybody dug into an enormous amount of spaghetti. I would like to thank all staff and parents and the Knights of Columbus, who made this a special day for the American veterans who made days like this possible. Without their sacrifice and devotion to the American people we would not have these liberties. I think I speak for the Columbia River Young Marine staff and parents in saying that this should be an annual event in honor of our Citizen Soldiers.
God Bless,
Mark and Linda Sims
Columbia River Young Marines,
Kennewick, Washington

Heroes in our Community
November, 2004

~LCpl Carter

There are many heroes in our community, and it was hard to choose only one. The one who is a hero in my eyes is a man named Dr. Paul Sandgren Th.D. He is the Pastor of a small church I have gone to all of my life. I have never known any one person who knows the Bible as well as he does. He began his ministry here in the Tri-Cities, WA. in 1963. Over the past forty-one years he has led countless people to Christ. His ministry has touched so many lives including my own. Hs willingness to let God run his life and the way he has stayed the course even when times were tough, makes him a hero in my eyes.

~Sgt. Boyd

When people talk about a hero the first person that comes to my mind is my Dad, Danny. Or the past 15 years he has been fighting fires and for 11 years he has been an emergency medical technician (EMT), responding to medical calls. You see my dad is a volunteer for a local fire department. He doesn't do it for the pay; he has a full time job. He enjoys helping people who can't help themselves. In our community there are many heroes, mine is my Dad.

~Cpl Rosenkranz

There are many heroes in our community; police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses and others, but the ones that stick out the most to me are teachers. Teachers work with good kids and bad kids, annoying kids and flirty kids, kids that really want to learn and kids that are only they're because they have to be. They have to deal with your bad attitudes and the bad attitudes of the rest of the class. They teach us things we need to know to succeed in life and to grow up with the proper knowledge to get a job out in the secular world. My teachers were tough on me, but later in life I see it improved me and kept me studying and learning properly.

~LCpl Dillsworth

I think some of the biggest heroes in our community are the pastors of our churches. Pastors help the community by the many ways they help its people. Pastors visit elderly people in nursing homes, their personal homes and in assisted living homes. Pastors encourage people when they visit the sick. They often give counseling to people with troubled lives, kids, marriages, finances, etc. The list seems endless. Pastors work with kids and teenagers to try to teach them to think of others instead of themselves. Pastors sit with dying people and then stay to encourage the family after their loved one has passed away. Sometimes they will even help load moving trucks when a family is moving in or out of the community. I think that pastors are some of the biggest heroes in our community because they are always thinking of the needs of others.

Memories of a Marine
PFC. Norton
June 25, 2004

I read an article in the newspaper about a marine from Prosser, Washington, that would never give up. His name was Marvin Best. He was a staff Sgt. in the Marine Corps enlisted ranks. Just in case you don't know about him, here is something I want you to know about Marvin Best.

On Sunday June 20, 2004, Staff Sergeant Best was in an explosion in Iraq. His friends tried to save him but he still died.

When his family got the news they thought about what he once said, "I will die saving the person next to me." He also said, "Don't worry about me until you have seen a car with flags on it pull up in your drive way."

What Staff Sergeant Best shows is never give up and never stop until you finish doing your job. He also teaches us to finish our goals. So, thank you Staff Sergeant Best.

PFC. Quinn, K
June 25, 2004

Taps is the most recognized call by a bugler today. The words Taps are day is done, gone the sun, from the hills, from the lakes, from the skies, all is well, safely rest, God is nigh. Its origins date all of the way back to June 26, 1862. The tune to Taps was made up by Union General Butterfield during a battle against the Confederates at Gain's Mill. His men were beginning to falter but in spite the fact he had serious injuries General Butterfield seized the flag and rallied his men to keep going. Around this time Butterfield's men had very little morale and it got lower when President Lincoln visited to say that it was impossible to send more reinforcements. General Butterfield sensed his men's mood and wanted to find a way to give them a feel and sense of comfort. So that night he stayed up late humming musical phrases until he got a melody. The next day he called his lead bugler and whistled the tune and the bugler wrote down some notes on his hand. That evening they played it. A while later one of his soldiers died. When they did his burial they didn't give a 21 gun salute. They were afraid it would start another battle. Instead he called his bugler and ordered him to play Taps. This was the first time Taps was used at a burial. Today it is used a lot. It's played everyday at the place where General Butterfield is buried.

Memorial Day May 2004
LCpl. Hassan S.
June 25, 2004

After we arrived we were soon informed that LCpl. Hassan O., both Cpl. Dickensons and I were to do the color guard for that morning's ceremony. We practiced a few times before the ceremony. And when the time came we placed the flags then marched back into formation. The younger Young Marines did an excellent job holding up the colors even though it was windy. The flag folding ceremony went great as well. And I'd like to commend the color guard because they did an awesome job marching up and presenting the colors during the flag ceremony. Even though it was hard, from all of the wind, we completely folded Old Glory and it looked awesome. Helping Veterans on Memorial Day is always an honorable pleasure and I'm glad I could be there to help out. Semper Fi.

Memorial Day Success
PFC Gillespie B
June 25, 2004

I never used to understand why my mom and dad said I was born on a special day. Memorial Day! I would always ask what Memorial Day was. As a Young Marine I have experienced so much. I have learned respect for veterans, military personnel, elderly, adults, myself, most important my country. On Memorial Day we don't only honor the family members that have passed, we honor all whom serve and have served in the armed forces. We honor the Red, White & Blue! I don't always understand what's going on in Iraq or the Middle East, but I understand our soldiers are sacrificing their lives for my freedom, my future, children's freedom, and their children's freedom. I believe it takes great courage and great honor to go to a place of the unknown. We study the Middle East in history, but we have no idea of the conditions our soldiers are experiencing. Iraq looks small on a map, to our soldiers it is a big war zone. While we sit and watch TV, go to softball games, or even sleep at night in our comfortable beds, our military young and old, men and women, are risking their lives for our American people. Many adults say the younger generation forgets the meaning of Memorial Day. How can we forget something we have never been taught? Now Mr. Lusignan has taught me the meaning of true patriotism I will continue to teach the next generation.

Dedication and what it means to me
By: Lcpl Brady
June 25, 2004

What dedication means to me is that you are wholly committed to something or someone. And that dedication makes you work hard for that something or someone you are dedicated to. It means you are committed, you are willing to work your butt off for what ever that something or someone is. The Young Marine program is a good example of dedication.

I look at the Young Marine program and I see people that are willing to work hard for the better of their community and country in general. You have to be dedicated to earn the title of Young Marine. You have to work hard, but it is all worth it in the end. I see a lot of dedication from the Young Marines, but the people who I see it most from and are some of the hardest working people I have ever seen are the staff.

I am not saying that the Young Marines don't work hard, because they do and I am proud of them. I am saying that the staff are a good example of dedication to me because they work their schedules around the program. They do everything they can for the program, and the greatest thing about the power of dedication in these people is, they don't have to do this. It is strictly voluntary, they could all leave if they wanted to.

But since they care and are dedicated in raising a drug free youth they don't. That deserves a lot of thanks, and I believe the best way we can thank them is be more dedicated ourselves, because we Young Marines are also a vital part of the program. And without us or the staff it would not exist. The Young Marine program is one of the best programs I have ever been in and I am proud to call myself a Young Marine. Semper Fi, and stay dedicated!

Interview with Marine Recruiter on Maui

Mark Sims
Interview with Marine Recruiter on Maui

April 11, 2004

While I was in Maui, I met the only Marine Recruiter on the island. His name was Gunnery Sergeant David K. DeJetley. I asked if I could ask a few questions about his experience in the Corp. He was more than happy to help out and thought it was cool.

Gunnery Sergeant David K. DeJetley, Recruiter
Marine Corps Recruiting Hawaii
Kahului, HI
Joined Oct. 1989 and attended Boot camp in San Diego, CA
Birthplace: Hana, HI

  1. Growing up what did you do? I helped my mother run the family hotel. I enjoyed surfing, cross-country running, track, weight lifting, and being a life guard.

  2. Family history - I was the first born, I had one brother. My father died while I was a young boy. I Lived with my mother and helped her run a small hotel.

  3. Why did he decide to be a Marine: His step-father was a Marine, He thought the Marine Corps was the best out of all the armed services. But his step dad wanted him to joined the Air Force, which in return made a huge influence on him to join the Marines (rebellious).

  4. How hard was boot camp? Boot camp was 12 weeks long, the toughest thing he has ever done in his life. 1) Because he is out of his home element. 2) Doubting his decision joining the Corp. 3) Matured him. (He would never want to go through boot camp again).

  5. Would you want to do it again? Definitely again!. It made me a better man, husband and dad.

  6. Are any of your recruits in Iraq? One of the recruits is in Iraq and I keep in close touch with his family.

  7. Ever had an opportunity to see a Young Marine unit? No, I would love to see a picture of your unit.

  8. Words of wisdom: Advise Young Marines to take advantage of all their options, explore everything prior to making your decision to join the Corps. If you make that commitment do your best and give the Corp 100% and take advantage of the extra training and education that they have to offer. Corps only wants the best of the best so education is number one.

Interview with Marine Recruiter on Maui

Career with the Corps:
Started in San Diego, CA 1989
North Carolina 1990
Japan 1991
Back to North Carolina 1992
Japan 1995
Italy 1996
Back to North Carolina 1997
Florida for extra schooling 1998
Saudi Arabia 1999
Germany 2000
Recruiting school in San Diego 2001
Back to North Carolina 2001
Kahului, HI 2002, opened the first recruiting Marine Corps office on Maui, and is the only Marine Corps active duty on Maui.

National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy
~submitted by: SSgt Benjamin (February 2004)

On February 10-15, the Young Marines gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and participate in the NYLF/DID. This forum provided a great insight into how the government works on national security matters and how agencies communicate with each other.

It wasn’t all work though. We had many choices of site visits. I chose to go to Fort Belvoir and visit the 12th Aviation Battalion and the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate. The aviation battalion is responsible for all VIP transport, military or governmental. The night vision lab develops all new NV technology. Some of this stuff is really cool. Thermal imaging is the newest technology. It even works through heavy smoke and dust. We also got to go to the national mall. We could go to the Smithsonian’s or the Holocaust Museum. I went to the Holocaust Museum. There was such a long line that we didn’t have enough time to read everything but the pictures were horrible.

Our work wasn’t all over. We were in groups of about 22 kids from across the country. As a group, we had to participate in a national security simulation. We had to do some prior research, and you could tell who did and who didn’t do their homework. Since we are a group, we had to catch everyone up to the level they needed to be, which did prove to be a challenge. Believe it or not, there was a language barrier. No, everyone spoke English, but different terminology and accents proved to be an obstacle. We understood each other by day three, and we all learned that we are going to deal with these types of problems for the rest of our lives.

There were many lessons that we learned over the week. The information that was thrown at us may be useless now, but may become invaluable in the not so far future. If anyone is interested in any military of government job, I would recommend that you attend this forum. I can’t thank the Young Marines enough for giving me this opportunity that I may not have otherwise. I urge you all to take advantage of as much as you can. You may never get another chance.

Semper Fi,
SSgt Benjamin

My first oral exam
~submitted by: Pfc. Hassan (February 2004)

As I went to Young Marine’s Thursday night, I was starting to get a little nervous about the oral exam that I had to take. I had studied the paper I was given, but I had thought there might be more questions they would ask me. I started studying other things and was getting worried because I wasn’t exactly sure what else to study. While I was getting ready to go, and on our way there I was saying things that I had memorized over and over again in my head and out loud. When it came time for the test, I was even more nervous; but I began to relax after I found out I was going first. After some encouragement from Mrs.Chapin I had to wait outside the office for a few minutes because there was a recruit getting a haircut. As I was pacing outside of the office I was trying to remember everything I had studied and memorized. It seemed like forever and a day before the recruit finally was finished with his haircut, but when I entered the room I wished it had taken a little longer. I marched up to the desk and reported in to Mrs.Villanueva. She asked if I wanted to sit or stand at attention during the exam; I chose to stand. To my surprise, she only asked me the questions on the sheet of paper she had given me to study. When I left the room I was relieved. Because I had studied the sheet of paper, I scored a hundred percent on the exam. Although it’s a little nerve racking, if you study you’ll have no problem at all passing your oral exam.

Rembering our Veterans...

Note from the CO: I was the guest speaker for two different school Veterans Day assemblies and read this letter as part of my speech. I'll be darned if it didn't make some of the kids and teachers cry. It's written by Corporal Corey Boyd, one of my finest, after helping out at "The Moving Wall," which was in our area for the last week. It was great timing, landing smack in the middle of the Veterans Day events.

Keep the faith,
Joe Lusignan
Columbia River Young Marines

"On Friday, November 7th, 2003 while many of my fellow classmates and Young Marines slept, my mother and I got up at 0400 and went to Flat Top Park in West Richland, Washington.

There stood something that will forever be etched in my mind. It was the scaled down version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Young Marines help erect the Moving Wall Memorial

The reason why we were there on this day was because neither my Mom nor I had school, and we wanted to do something to say "Thank You" to the men and women who died serving our country and also to the families that came to see the wall who had loved ones who did not make it home.

During our time there as hospitality guides, I witnessed an elderly woman having trouble etching out a name on the wall. I went over to offer my assistance, and noticed she was crying (my Mom had packed my pockets with tissues as well). As I was etching the name for her, she gave me the story behind the name. It was her son. He was killed while serving in the Army right before Christmas in 1971. When I was done, she asked me to say a prayer with her while holding her hand with the etching. I did, and before the prayer was over I was crying too.

She hugged me and thanked me over, and over again for helping her and allowing her to talk.

I went there a twelve year old boy and walked away that afternoon, a young man looking at the world totally different.


Cpl. Boyd
Columbia River Young Marines

"My Commitment to America's Future"
~submitted by: Heather L. Dickenson (October 2003)

My commitment to America is a strong subject to bring up, because it runs deep. A commitment is not a light thing to be taken. It is a life changing moment.

If any country were to strike America I would be one of the first to sign up. America is my country. It is all of ours. I would stand up for this country and many others would too. This country is where our forefathers gave their lives for us to have freedom. That was a commitment. A commitment to give up their lives for a country but not for just any country for a country that has a promise to give everyone a new start where they can start a new life, A life of freedom.

Through the years there has been a lot of times when many have had to stand up and give their lives to keep every one of us free. Most of them were just young kids that were only teenagers signing up as if they were 18 but they were only 16 or 15 maybe even younger. These are the ones that show really great commitment because they hadn't even got out into the world to start a life and they committed their lives to America. There was a story I read about that had happened in the battle on Iwo Jima. There was a boy who was too young to sign up but he signed up any way. He stowed away on one of the boats that was on its way to a great battle that not many men came back from. When they hit land they were fired on immediately. He found a gun on the ground and started helping out the men that had fed him and took care of him when on the voyage there. There was a grenade thrown at him and his comrades he grabbed it at stuck it deep in the ash. Then there was a second thrown at him. He jumped on both of them to save everyone around him so they could live and go on. He survived that. The medics asked him why he did it. He said to save his buddies. That's the same with America and us. We would take a bullet or jump on a grenade to save America and the freedom and to make sure all of the kids that live here get a chance in the world, that they get freedom to become writers or doctors by choice not by someone telling them to. So we all have a choice of religion. Being able to speak our minds out loud. That is what real freedom is; and that is what every one of those people that gave their lives wanted for every one of us. We should all respect what they did for us by doing the same because if we don't all that those people did would go in vain.

My commitment to America's future is that I would take a bullet to make sure that the children that haven't been born or may be too young to walk or talk and kids older than that have the chance to see the world in a better state. Where they can choose. Where they are not afraid to walk out side of their doors and speak what they want to say. Where they can have any religion they want just like what our forefathers had wanted in the first place; a place of Freedom.

From birth everyone should commit his or her life to America, because America is our home. It isn't just a place. It's where many men and women sacrificed and committed their lives for us to be here. I am 15 years old. Many people think that we don't notice what is going on around us and what was done for us to be here to be able to choose. But we all notice and know. We would step up to the plate when given the chance to fight for our country and commit to it. I know many that were given the chance and took it. They now are fighting over in the Middle East.

Proud to be a Young Marine

~submitted by: Private Corey Tyron,
Columbia River Young Marine

Proud to be a Young Marine, and hold that title,
To wear my uniform and hold my head high
To uphold the values and truths of the Young Marines,
And to never lie.

To believe in myself and my unit,
My extended family,
My band of brothers and sisters,
A family like no other.

To stand tall and make a difference
To be counted as an equal,
As part of a team.
Proud to hold the title of
Young Marine.
(July 2002)

Memorial Day
~submitted by: PFC Heather L. Dickenson (June 2002)

What I thought about the Memorial service is well I can't find the right words to really describe the ceremony, but one thing that I can say is that it was a touching ceremony. It was the first Memorial service I have ever gone to and it is was cool how people came to the service to pay their respects to the men and women who were in the wars. Some had relatives in the war and some had friends in the wars and they all came. To tell you the truth I have never been to a cemetry not even a funeral so that was the first time I got to be in a cemetry and be in a ceremony that respected someones life. Because my mom and dad would be the ones that would go while my sister and I stayed home. So when I went to that service I was really touched and was really honored to be able to raise the flag.

The Price of Freedom
~submitted by: Pfc. Nicole Carter (May 2002)

The price of freedom meant death for so many but it was worth the price they paid for it. For without their willing hearts and self-sacrifice where would we be? For through their strife we gained a new and free nation. So when you start to take for granted the freedoms you were born with, take a moment to think of the brave men and women, living and dead, who with no thought of turning back...gave their all. For that is the price of freedom.

~Semper Fidelis

What Veterans Day Means To Me
~submitted by: Lance Corporal Garrett Lusignan (11 yrs) (November 2001)

What does Veteran's Day mean to you? That's a question that's hard to answer because it means so much to a lot of us that we can't explain. Iwo Jima, Montezuma, Tripoli, Guadalcanal and so forth are all places Veterans Day stands for because of the few good men and women who fought there. Think about it. Would you give your life to your country? They were willing to and a lot of them did.

With the recent bombings on the East Coast, Veteran's Day will become of more importance to kids our age because for the first time in many of our lives people we know may be called upon to defend our country and to prevent further terrorist attacks on our homeland. Up until now we've been thinking of Veterans as our senior citizens. Think again...Uncles, Dads, loved relatives may be going in there to defend our country who might not be coming back. This is why we set aside this day to pay tribute to our heroes of America.

What is Veteran's Day?
~submitted by: PFC. Billie Wright (16 yrs) (November 2001)

Due to the recent September 11th attacks, a great reign of patriotism has come forth in our country. Even though this event is by far the greatest tragedy in the history of the United States, I feel it has pulled our nation together as one once again. So much has happened in the past to make our country what it is today. We as a nation have gone through numerous tragedies, plights and conflicts but almost always pull through with amazing victories. Still, we can't forget all of the millions of people we have lost in order to earn those victories. That's what Veterans Day is for, to remember and honor those who have died, served or fought for us...for our rights and our freedom. The very things that makes our country just that much better from the rest.

Memorial Day
~submitted by: Pvt. Corey A. Tyron, May 2001

I used to think that Memorial Day was just another excuse to enjoy a three-day weekend and get out of school, but this Memorial Day was different. It had a real meaning to me.

I polished up my boots, looked my uniform over, and made sure my cover was on exact. I carried myself with pride and honor. I had never been to a Memorial Day service before and did not know what to expect.

I was amazed at all the people who attended to pay their respect for those who served our country. As I looked about, I saw adults and children of all ages holding flowers and flags. The services continued with guest speakers, presentations of wreaths and finally what I had waited for… "The Roll Call of Names."

I waited for what seemed forever for one name, my grandmother's. My eyes swelled with tears and my heart swelled with pride as well. I finally understood what Memorial Day meant. It was not just another day to get out of school; it was a day to remember those who are no longer with us.

I would like to thank Mr. Lusignan and his staff for all the support they have given to me, and I am glad to be coming back to the Young Marines.

What I Get Out of Young Marines
~submitted by: SSgt. N. Allen, May 2001

Classes and PT aren't the only things that a Young Marine can gain from participating. From these classes, leadership is gained as well as the knowledge of what you just learned. Discipline is in everything we do. But what I get most out of the Young Marines is Pride and Teamwork. These two really go together in my book. When we get something done as a team like a parade or project and we did it right. We get rewarded in that it gives me the pride knowing that I was part of that group. Besides getting to go to neat places and do cool things, I learn a lot at each and everything I do. At times there may be yelling, but then I don't make the same mistake twice. I have learned how to lead by example and get the best out of the Young Marines.

"I promise to say no to drugs."
~submitted by: Pfc. Garrett Lusignan, May 2001

I feel this way because of the help given to me from my DARE Officer Kist and my dad. First, I thought I knew everything about the first drug is the worst and how drugs can kill you and to stay away from them. Now I know how to say, "NO!" Now I know DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. "No!" is the answer you should give if you want to earn your goals. Everybody has goals. I have a friend who says she wants to go to the Olympics for running. Now, THAT'S a goal. I'm not sure of all my goals but whatever they are I'll do my best. Nothing will get in my way. I don't want drugs because:

I don't want to die.

I don't want to be a geek off the street. I want to be as strong and as healthy as I possibly can without cancerettes or other drugs. Smart kids stay away from drugs… why do you think they call it "DOPE?"

“What D.A.R.E. meant to me...”
~submitted by: Lance Corporal Ben Bettencourt, April 2001

In my DARE class that I took last year, we learned a lot of things about drugs, alcohol, gangs and the “eight” ways to say “NO”

My DARE officer, Deputy Joe Marsh taught my fellow students and I some of these things in fun ways, such as, role-playing, games, and quizzes. We also had a chance to ask him questions about his everyday life and his job.

Some of the “eight” ways to say no are: cold shoulder, broken record, give a reason or excuse, change the subject, and the simple way of saying “no, thanks”. Whenever he said “eight”, we had to yell back “eight” to him, and pretty soon we got the hang of it.

We also learned some definitions, like drug, which is a substance other than food that changes the way your mind or body works. The most important thing I learned is what drugs can do to you, and your goals.

My goal is to graduate form the Air Force Academy, which means that I cannot do any drugs that will harm my body whatsoever.

Oh, and no offense about the Air Force, Mr. Lusignan.

Taking a Stand
~submitted by: Michael Ordway, April 2001

I, Michael, promise to stay drug free. I promise this to my family. I will stay away from people that do drugs. It’s important to maintain good health. I will commit this to my family. My grandma would be very, very upset if I did drugs. She has a lot of great plans for me! I don’t want to get hurt or killed by doing drugs. Big drug organizations might send someone out to get me. I want to stay healthy and active. I also don’t want to get Cancer.

What it is to be a Young Marine
~submitted by: Rachel Baysinger, January 2001

Honor. Courage. Commitment. These three words are what we use to describe the men and women who serve our country proudly as US Marines. These are the three words that encouraged me through every single day of my boot camp, as well as they do today.

When I began my boot camp in February 1998, I had no idea what to expect. The only ideas that I had of the Young Marines were those that were given to me from the video that they showed at the Parent's night/ registration night that I attended before my boot camp. There was an enormous sense of discipline that I have never felt before. Learning all the positions and movements of drill were just difficult obstacles that I had to overcome. Not to mention learning all of my general knowledge I needed to know to pass my tests.

I graduated from boot camp on May 4, 1998, and was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class. There was an overwhelming sense of pride that I had felt, knowing that everything I had- my uniform, my rank, my bearing, my knowledge, everything- were things that I had earned.

I still feel that sense of pride every day when I tell everyone about the Young Marines and what I have accomplished being in this program. Now, I too feel Honor, Courage, and Commitment along with the pride and dedication that I feel from being a US Young Marine.

Why We Honor Our Veterans
~submitted by: LCpl Conklin, 10/20/00

Bob, "Why do we honor our Veterans? I mean they're just some old guys who fought for America, right?"

Jeff, "I agree, dude, I don't even care about America."

Bob, "Oh well, this assembly gets us out of class."

Jeff, "Yeah, I suppose that I can sit through a Veteran's Day assembly if it gets us out of another boring Biology lecture."

Even though in this story Bob and Jeff are fictional characters, sadly, this is the attitude of many of America's youth nowadays. America's youth take so much for granted these days. I'm not putting myself on a pedestal, I take some things for granted too. But Bob and Jeff need to be told that in some other countries they wouldn't even be able to say anything like that out loud. In other countries they could be shot on the spot for speaking out against the government. So the answer to the question "Why do we honor our Veterans?" would have to be: We honor our Veterans because they fought battles where their buddies dropped like flies all around them so that we could have the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom to pick our Nation's Leader.

And when I say that they dropped like flies, I don't mean like in a video game where they'll be back fighting on the next level. I mean that many people gave their lives so that we could have our rights and freedoms. So the next time one of your conversations comes to the topic of our Nation's Veterans or you hear someone bad-mouthing them, explain to them that they wouldn't even have the freedom of speech if it wasn't for the Veterans of America.

Updated: May 2012